2021-10-20: Evolution of a Childhood Newspaper

Cover Pages of Wijeya newspapers

When we (Gavindya and Yasith) were young adults, we read the Wijeya newspaper weekly back in Sri Lanka.  Wijeya is a native language (Sinhala), weekly newspaper in Sri Lanka, published by Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Back in the days, the Wijeya newspaper was published only on paper. However, today most newspapers are also published on websites as online newspapers as well. We remember reading the Wijeya newspaper weekly, whenever we got free time. Since our parents did not allow us to use computers much, we dedicated our leisure time mostly for reading. 

The Wijeya newspaper included sections for science, fiction, drawings and creative writings of children, news about schools, and general news (local and international). Sometimes, the Wijeya newspaper was sold out, and our parents had to go to a different store to buy it for us. It was a very popular newspaper among young adults. We loved to read it mostly because of the presentation of information. The Wijeya newspaper had its own unique way of educating young adults using interesting articles accompanied by vivid illustrations. Science articles and fiction were my favorite sections to read in the Wijeya newspaper. The Wijeya newspaper remains a popular weekly newspaper among young adults due to its own distinctive style of writing and presentation that makes easy reading.

An episode of a story in one of the Wijeya newspapers. It features an illustration of a paddy field and educates readers with the meanings of unique words used by farmers in paddy fields. 

The publisher of Wijeya newspaper, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd., commenced publication of newspapers in 1980 with two Sinhala newspapers in Sri Lanka; one of which was Wijeya newspaper. The company expanded its publishing activities by acquiring several newspaper titles including "Lankadeepa", "Sunday Times", "Tharunaya", and "Lanka Woman". 

Newspapers published by Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.

Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. online newspapers are also popular among Sri Lankan internet users. Since we loved reading the Wijeya newspaper as young adults, we were eager to see the evolution of the Wijeya newspaper over the years through web archives. Therefore, we started digging up the snapshots from December 12, 1998 through October 12, 2021 using the Wayback Machine with the URL "http://www.wijeya.lk/". We observed that it has been saved 639 times altogether. 

The front page of Wijeya online newspaper (URL: http://www.wijeya.lk/)

Time Map for the URL http://www.wijeya.lk/ 

We clicked on multiple snapshots to observe the evolution of the Wijeya newspaper. To our surprise, we found that the URL http://www.wijeya.lk/ has originally been used not as the online version of the Wijeya newspaper, but as the website of the parent company, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. The content of the parent company's website was in the English language. We believe it is because the audience for the parent company included people outside of Sri Lanka as well.

A memento from 2007 for http://www.wijeya.lk/ 

By further investigating the mementos, we found a memento on June 16, 2011, a snapshot of the website http://www.wijeya.lk/ when it has removed its content as the website of the company (Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.) and transformed it into the online Wijeya newspaper for young adults. We observed that even though the URL stayed the same, the content served at that URL changed, both in audience and in language.  

The memento from June 16, 2011 for http://www.wijeya.lk/ 

The last snapshot of the company website was on January 19, 2011. In between January 19, 2011 and June 16, 2011, there are two mementos, one on May 7th and the other on May 24th, which does not provide any  useful information about the company.

The memento from May 7, 2011 for http://www.wijeya.lk/ 
The memento from May 24, 2011 for http://www.wijeya.lk/ 

This made us wonder what happened to the website of Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Out of curiosity, we Google searched "Wijeya Newspapers Ltd." and found out that they have a new URL for the company website, which is http://www.wijeyanewspapers.lk/. We decided to dig up the snapshots of the URL "http://www.wijeyanewspapers.lk/" using the Wayback Machine. We observed that it has been saved 1,674 times between September 24, 2011 and October 12, 2021. We concluded that somewhere in between May 24, 2011 and September 24, 2011, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. has moved the company website from "http://www.wijeya.lk/" to "http://www.wijeyanewspapers.lk/". 

Time Map for the URL http://www.wijeyanewspapers.lk

In summary, we were fortunate to discover mementos of "http://www.wijeya.lk/" and "http://www.wijeyanewspapers.lk" in the Internet Archive. We had fun investigating the evolution of our favorite childhood newspaper. 

We are very excited to celebrate #InternetArchive25 with the Internet Archive. We would like to thank the Internet Archive for saving snapshots of history, so we can connect the dots on how and when websites change. We would also like to thank Dr. Michael Nelson and Dr. Sampath Jayarathna for encouraging us to write this blog.

- Gavindya Jayawardena (@Gavindya2) and Yasith Jayawardana (@yasithmilinda)